Three things we still can hold true

ESPN.com experts tackle the remaining truths in college hoops.

Originally Published: October 12, 2005
By ESPN.com experts

With all the conference-shifting around the country this season, we felt it necessary to remember a few things that still will hold true. ESPN.com's experts tackle the three things that will remain a constant in this season of change.

Bilas' three things that still hold true
Bilas
Apologies to Oprah, but in this day and age of constant and dizzying change, there are still some basic things in basketball that are constant. Here are three things I know down to my socks are true:

1. Experience still matters
Ask any good coach what he would rather have: experienced and talented upperclassmen or super-talented youngsters. They will all say the former. Yeah, the game has gotten younger, but if you look at the top teams in the country this year, most will be led by upperclassmen.

When you have juniors and seniors, you win more often at the highest level. Last year, the Final Four was packed with experience and some young talent. While Marvin Williams may have been the most talented kid in St. Louis, the load was carried and the nets were cut down by Carolina's juniors and seniors.

Look all you want to Carmelo Anthony as your retort to this theory, but 'Melo was the exception to the rule. In Indianapolis, juniors and seniors will be carrying the loads -- and holding the scissors to cut the nets down.

2. Defense still keys winning
It has been posited by some that the best way to win a national championship is to build a great offensive team rather than a great defensive team. That is facile interpretation. Clearly, to win and win big, you need to be proficient at both ends of the court.

Last year, North Carolina became the first team since the early 1960s to lead the nation in scoring and win the national championship. While the Heels' defense was not as strong as their offense, it still was pretty darn good -- and vastly underrated.

Here's the rub: Most teams that are ranked high in scoring defense hold those positions because they are ball-control teams. They do not allow many possessions, and therefore do not allow as many points. Most good offensive teams score a lot of "easy" baskets, which come primarily off of defense. If you turn somebody over or force a bad shot and run off of it, you will face fewer defenders in the scoring area and go against set defenses less often.

If gritty, hard-nosed defense is not a team's staple, it will not win at the very highest level. You want to see which teams win? Look at scoring, but also look at shooting percentages, turnover margin, free-throw disparity, defensive field-goal percentage and rebound margin. Nobody wins big without guarding people. That will never change.

3. Dee Brown has no position; he's just a player
The reigning Big Ten Player of the Year didn't make my first- or second-team preseason All-American squads, primarily because I did them by position. Brown has no position in which to pigeonhole him. He is just a player, and a darn good one.

He is not a natural point and is small for a shooting guard, but the kid is a big-time college player who will carry perhaps the biggest load of any guard in America this year. He will have to bring the ball up, run some offense and call his own number. He will also have to adjust, at times, to waiting for the outlet before taking off downcourt -- something Deron Williams took care of for him last year. I know that Brown is first-team All-American good -- it's just that others out there are, too.